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Concept: Actin


Protein timing is a popular dietary strategy designed to optimize the adaptive response to exercise. The strategy involves consuming protein in and around a training session in an effort to facilitate muscular repair and remodeling, and thereby enhance post-exercise strength- and hypertrophy-related adaptations. Despite the apparent biological plausibility of the strategy, however, the effectiveness of protein timing in chronic training studies has been decidedly mixed. The purpose of this paper therefore was to conduct a multi-level meta-regression of randomized controlled trials to determine whether protein timing is a viable strategy for enhancing post-exercise muscular adaptations. The strength analysis comprised 478 subjects and 96 ESs, nested within 41 treatment or control groups and 20 studies. The hypertrophy analysis comprised 525 subjects and 132 ESs, nested with 47 treatment or control groups and 23 studies. A simple pooled analysis of protein timing without controlling for covariates showed a small to moderate effect on muscle hypertrophy with no significant effect found on muscle strength. In the full meta-regression model controlling for all covariates, however, no significant differences were found between treatment and control for strength or hypertrophy. The reduced model was not significantly different from the full model for either strength or hypertrophy. With respect to hypertrophy, total protein intake was the strongest predictor of ES magnitude. These results refute the commonly held belief that the timing of protein intake in and around a training session is critical to muscular adaptations and indicate that consuming adequate protein in combination with resistance exercise is the key factor for maximizing muscle protein accretion.

Concepts: Metabolism, Energy, Muscle, Physical exercise, Actin, Tissues, Muscular system, Exercise physiology


Modeling clinically relevant tissue responses using cell models poses a significant challenge for drug development, in particular for drug induced liver injury (DILI). This is mainly because existing liver models lack longevity and tissue-level complexity which limits their utility in predictive toxicology. In this study, we established and characterized novel bioprinted human liver tissue mimetics comprised of patient-derived hepatocytes and non-parenchymal cells in a defined architecture. Scaffold-free assembly of different cell types in an in vivo-relevant architecture allowed for histologic analysis that revealed distinct intercellular hepatocyte junctions, CD31+ endothelial networks, and desmin positive, smooth muscle actin negative quiescent stellates. Unlike what was seen in 2D hepatocyte cultures, the tissues maintained levels of ATP, Albumin as well as expression and drug-induced enzyme activity of Cytochrome P450s over 4 weeks in culture. To assess the ability of the 3D liver cultures to model tissue-level DILI, dose responses of Trovafloxacin, a drug whose hepatotoxic potential could not be assessed by standard pre-clinical models, were compared to the structurally related non-toxic drug Levofloxacin. Trovafloxacin induced significant, dose-dependent toxicity at clinically relevant doses (≤ 4uM). Interestingly, Trovafloxacin toxicity was observed without lipopolysaccharide stimulation and in the absence of resident macrophages in contrast to earlier reports. Together, these results demonstrate that 3D bioprinted liver tissues can both effectively model DILI and distinguish between highly related compounds with differential profile. Thus, the combination of patient-derived primary cells with bioprinting technology here for the first time demonstrates superior performance in terms of mimicking human drug response in a known target organ at the tissue level.

Concepts: Glucose, Liver, Glycogen, Actin, Bile, Toxicology, Smooth muscle, Hepatocyte


Skeletal muscle is a plastic organ that is maintained by multiple pathways regulating cell and protein turnover. During muscle atrophy, proteolytic systems are activated, and contractile proteins and organelles are removed, resulting in the shrinkage of muscle fibers. Excessive loss of muscle mass is associated with poor prognosis in several diseases, including myopathies and muscular dystrophies, as well as in systemic disorders such as cancer, diabetes, sepsis and heart failure. Muscle loss also occurs during aging. In this paper, we review the key mechanisms that regulate the turnover of contractile proteins and organelles in muscle tissue, and discuss how impairments in these mechanisms can contribute to muscle atrophy. We also discuss how protein synthesis and degradation are coordinately regulated by signaling pathways that are influenced by mechanical stress, physical activity, and the availability of nutrients and growth factors. Understanding how these pathways regulate muscle mass will provide new therapeutic targets for the prevention and treatment of muscle atrophy in metabolic and neuromuscular diseases.

Concepts: Metabolism, Muscle, Glycogen, Actin, Myosin, Muscular system, Acetylcholine, Neuromuscular disease


Plastin 3 (PLS3), a protein involved in the formation of filamentous actin (F-actin) bundles, appears to be important in human bone health, on the basis of pathogenic variants in PLS3 in five families with X-linked osteoporosis and osteoporotic fractures that we report here. The bone-regulatory properties of PLS3 were supported by in vivo analyses in zebrafish. Furthermore, in an additional five families (described in less detail) referred for diagnosis or ruling out of osteogenesis imperfecta type I, a rare variant (rs140121121) in PLS3 was found. This variant was also associated with a risk of fracture among elderly heterozygous women that was two times as high as that among noncarriers, which indicates that genetic variation in PLS3 is a novel etiologic factor involved in common, multifactorial osteoporosis.

Concepts: Osteoporosis, Bone, Genetics, Natural selection, Bone fracture, Fracture, Actin, Osteogenesis imperfecta


There is a growing demand for in vitro assays for toxicity screening in three-dimensional (3D) environments. In this study, 3D cell culture using magnetic levitation was used to create an assay in which cells were patterned into 3D rings that close over time. The rate of closure was determined from time-lapse images taken with a mobile device and related to drug concentration. Rings of human embryonic kidney cells (HEK293) and tracheal smooth muscle cells (SMCs) were tested with ibuprofen and sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS). Ring closure correlated with the viability and migration of cells in two dimensions (2D). Images taken using a mobile device were similar in analysis to images taken with a microscope. Ring closure may serve as a promising label-free and quantitative assay for high-throughput in vivo toxicity in 3D cultures.

Concepts: Cardiac muscle, Cell culture, Urinary bladder, Actin, Computer graphics, Muscle contraction, Smooth muscle, HEK cell


Myofibroblast differentiation, characterized by α-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA) expression, is a key process in organ fibrosis, and is induced by TGF-β. Here we examined whether an anti-fibrotic agent, N-acetyl-seryl-aspartyl-lysylproline (Ac-SDKP), can regulate induction of TGF-β signaling and myofibroblast differentiation as a potential key component of its anti-fibrotic mechanism in vivo and in vitro.

Concepts: Fibrosis, In vivo, Actin, In vitro


BACKGROUND: The Jendrassik maneuver (JM) is a remote facilitation muscular contraction shown to affect amplitude and temporal components of the human stretch reflex. Conflicting theoretical models exist regarding the neurological mechanism related to its ability to reinforce reflex parameters. One mechanism involves the gamma motoneurons of the fusimotor system, which are subject to both physical and mental activity. A second mechanism describes reduced alpha motoneuron presynaptic inhibition, which is not subject to mental activity. In the current study, we determined if mental activity could be used to create a reflex facilitation comparable to a remote muscle contraction. METHOD: Using a within-participants design, we investigated the relative effect of the JM and a successfully employed mental task (Stroop task) on the amplitude and temporal components of the patellar tendon reflex. RESULTS: We found that the addition of mental activity had no influence on the patellar tendon reflex parameters measured, while the JM provided facilitation (increased reflex amplitude, decreased total reflex time). CONCLUSION: The findings from this study support the view that the mechanism for the JM is a reduction in presynaptic inhibition of alpha motoneurons as it is influenced by physical and not mental activity.

Concepts: Muscle, Actin, Muscle contraction, Muscular system, Reflexes, Alpha motor neuron, Efferent neurons, Patellar reflex


The luciferase protein fragment complementation assay is a powerful tool for studying protein-protein interactions. Two inactive fragments of luciferase are genetically fused to interacting proteins, and when these two proteins interact, the luciferase fragments can reversibly associate and reconstitute enzyme activity. Though this technology has been used extensively in live eukaryotic cells, split luciferase complementation has not yet been applied to studies of dynamic protein-protein interactions in live bacteria. As proof of concept and to develop a new tool for studies of bacterial chemotaxis, fragments of Renilla luciferase (Rluc) were fused to the chemotaxis-associated response regulator CheY3 and its phosphatase CheZ in the enteric pathogen Vibrio cholerae. Luciferase activity was dependent on the presence of both CheY3 and CheZ fusion proteins, demonstrating the specificity of the assay. Furthermore, enzyme activity was markedly reduced in V. cholerae chemotaxis mutants, suggesting that this approach can measure defects in chemotactic signaling. However, attempts to measure changes in dynamic CheY3-CheZ interactions in response to various chemoeffectors were undermined by nonspecific inhibition of the full-length luciferase. These observations reveal an unexpected limitation of split Rluc complementation that may have implications for existing data and highlight the need for great caution when evaluating small molecule effects on dynamic protein-protein interactions using the split luciferase technology.

Concepts: Protein, Cell, Bacteria, Signal transduction, Enzyme, Microbiology, Cell biology, Actin


BACKGROUND: Cells sense the extracellular environment using adhesion receptors (integrins) linked to the intracellular actin cytoskeleton through a complex network of regulatory proteins that, all together, form focal adhesions (FAs). The molecular basis of how these sensing units are regulated, how they are implicated in transducing mechanical stimuli, and how this leads to a spatiotemporal coordination of FAs is unclear. RESULTS: Here we show that vinculin, through its links to the talin-integrin complex and F-actin, regulates the transmission of mechanical signals from the extracellular matrix to the actomyosin machinery. We demonstrate that the vinculin interaction with the talin-integrin complex drives the recruitment and release of core FA components. The activation state of vinculin is itself regulated by force, as underscored by our observation that vinculin localization to FAs is dependent on actomyosin contraction. Using a variety of vinculin mutants, we establish which components of the cell-matrix adhesion network are coordinated through direct and indirect associations with vinculin. Moreover, using cyclic stretching, we demonstrate that vinculin plays a key role in the transmission of extracellular mechanical stimuli leading to the reorganization of cell polarity. Of particular importance is the actin-binding tail region of vinculin, without which the cell’s ability to repolarize in response to cyclic stretching is perturbed. CONCLUSIONS: Overall our data promote a model whereby vinculin controls the transmission of intracellular and extracellular mechanical cues that are important for the spatiotemporal assembly, disassembly, and reorganization of FAs to coordinate polarized cell motility.

Concepts: Protein, Cell membrane, Cell biology, Actin, Cell signaling, Cytoskeleton, Focal adhesion, Vinculin


The currently accepted amount of protein required to achieve maximal stimulation of myofibrillar protein synthesis (MPS) following resistance exercise is 20-25 g. However, the influence of lean body mass (LBM) on the response of MPS to protein ingestion is unclear. Our aim was to assess the influence of LBM, both total and the amount activated during exercise, on the maximal response of MPS to ingestion of 20 or 40 g of whey protein following a bout of whole-body resistance exercise. Resistance-trained males were assigned to a group with lower LBM (≤65 kg; LLBM n = 15) or higher LBM (≥70 kg; HLBM n = 15) and participated in two trials in random order. MPS was measured with the infusion of (13)C6-phenylalanine tracer and collection of muscle biopsies following ingestion of either 20 or 40 g protein during recovery from a single bout of whole-body resistance exercise. A similar response of MPS during exercise recovery was observed between LBM groups following protein ingestion (20 g - LLBM: 0.048 ± 0.018%·h(-1); HLBM: 0.051 ± 0.014%·h(-1); 40 g - LLBM: 0.059 ± 0.021%·h(-1); HLBM: 0.059 ± 0.012%·h(-1)). Overall (groups combined), MPS was stimulated to a greater extent following ingestion of 40 g (0.059 ± 0.020%·h(-1)) compared with 20 g (0.049 ± 0.020%·h(-1); P = 0.005) of protein. Our data indicate that ingestion of 40 g whey protein following whole-body resistance exercise stimulates a greater MPS response than 20 g in young resistance-trained men. However, with the current doses, the total amount of LBM does not seem to influence the response.

Concepts: Metabolism, Muscle, Physical exercise, Exercise, Actin, Muscle contraction, Peptide synthesis, Muscle biopsy